Will Olga deliver?

italian gent

It hardly takes me to mention how the internet continues to transform our lives. Since I stopped full-time work I’ve had the chance to delve a little deeper into a few things that have always been on the ‘to-do’ list.

I’ve never particularly liked what the British High-street offers by way of men’s clothing. I dislike denim and trainers and branded clothing and am not into the ultra-casual mid-Atlantic look. There are still plenty of excellent clothes manufacturers in the U.K., but traditional English style has always struck me as rather fogeyish.

No, what I really like is the Italian style – superb fabrics and cuts and the chance for a little well-judged individualism. I like the fact that it comes much freer of heritage or class connotations and the cuts are rather sharper and more contemporary than most English style. (I will be reviewing some of the exceptions to this in due course). I like the fact that it combines casualness and formability and in part glories in personal tweaks rather than mindless conformity.

I am very reluctant to part with good money for anything that I don’t really like, and which will hopefully last well, and the consequence in recent years has been an increasingly severe clothes famine.

Whatever Italy’s other shortcomings, menswear is one thing they do beyond compare. And now I’ve had the time to see what could be done about my rapidly depleting wardrobe.

I have found several suppliers who will ship to the U.K. (and elsewhere) either free or at reasonable prices. More on them another time; for now I want to describe my latest experiment.

How shall I put this? Age has worked no wonders for my body shape, and so when it comes to off-the-shelf clothing what fits in one direction doesn’t always work in another. It is particularly bad when it comes to shirts; aside from the fact that in a world where body-sizes are increasing I don’t know who is wearing all these extra-slim cuts, a badly-straining shirt can destroy any outfit.

Italian gent 4
Not only for the younger man…

So I’ve taken the plunge into made-to-measure. There are numerous online tailors doing this now, and some of the prices are not as high as I had expected. My first shirt was from Studio Suits. It is well-enough made and the improved fit is definitely worth the trouble. Cost: £39 plus postage, and it arrived in a couple of weeks. But I am not so happy that they manufacture in Mumbai, presumably in sweat shops.

So I now have an order in place with Camiceria Olga, based in Milan since 1948. Most Italian online made-to-measure still starts at not much below €100, but Olga’s ‘everyday’ shirts come in at €55 plus postage.

By reputation, they are very obliging, and I have already had a little chat with a lady called Sara who wanted to be precise about my measurements. She struggled to understand why anyone would own shirts with a 2.5cm variation in shoulder width. I reminded her that I am not Italian!

Anyway, a yellow poplin shirt is underway for me in Milan. It will take around three weeks to deliver and I will report again on findings when it arrives.

(This post is not sponsored)

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